Part I — Concentration, meditation and contemplation

1.

Concentration means total identification. You focus all your attention on something and identify yourself with the object or the subject. Then you receive and grow into its essence, its divine essence.

When you concentrate, you have to choose something that gives you immediate joy. If you have a Master, your Master's picture will give you immediate joy. If you don't have a Master, select something that is very beautiful, divine and pure. A flower has all of these qualities. You can concentrate on a flower or anything else that gives you joy. Look at the flower and, while looking at the flower, feel that you have entered into the flower and become the flower. Then, in a few minutes, try to feel that you have become one with the consciousness of the flower. There will be no thoughts, good or bad, remaining in the mind. When you become one with the flower, the fragrance of the flower and the divine qualities of the flower will enter into you.

In the beginning you need a completely quiet place in which to concentrate. But if you are really advanced, at that time it does not matter. When I meditate and sing during a public function my concentration is very powerful. At that time it does not bother me when people are talking. But the talking may make other people unable to concentrate on my song. If I am concentrating here and somebody next to me is talking, I am totally unaware of him. I am in another world. But if someone starts making a noise, I will tell him to be quiet. It is not for my sake. Only I want to offer something, and if there is noise, then you will not be able to receive my offering.

After concentration comes meditation. In meditation, we enter into something vast. It may be Peace, Light or Bliss. When we get immense Peace, Light or Bliss in boundless measure, then we are meditating. When we meditate, we have to make our mind calm and quiet. This is absolutely necessary. If the mind is thinking of many things, then meditation can never happen.

Next we have to invoke the Presence of God. While invoking the Presence of God, we have to feel His constant inner guidance. Then, Peace, Light, Bliss and Power will descend. We can also get inner guidance from a spiritual Master. A Master can bring the soul of the seeker to the fore. The moment the soul comes forward, the heart immediately gets abundant joy and power. The power and joy of the heart then enter into the mind and the vital.

In terms of aspiration, the distances between concentration and meditation and meditation and contemplation are not the same. Between meditation and contemplation there is a very big gap. Many people do concentration when they have a great vital desire. If they want to become first in school or if they want to become a great football player, they will use tremendous vital power. When people are throwing the shotput or doing the pole vault, tremendous will power or concentration is needed. That is concentration from the vital. The power of concentration we automatically develop when we enter into sports. Athletes may not call it concentration. They only say, "My object is to throw the shotput farther than anybody." But that very idea or goal is concentration. But when it comes to meditation — making the mind calm, quiet, sublime and absolutely peaceful — that is too much for them. They will say that meditation has nothing to do with them. Again, many, many people on earth meditate or pray. Prayer and meditation are very similar. The only difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer goes up and meditation brings down. Both prayer and meditation are linked by a common goal. Prayer and meditation are like a see-saw. You are on one side and the Supreme is on the other side. You are going up and bringing down, but the Supreme remains on the other side.

Contemplation is a different process. During meditation and concentration, there is somebody with whom you are trying to be one. But in contemplation there is an interchange. You are playing two roles. At one moment you are what the Supreme is, on His side of the see-saw; you are on the same level with the Absolute. The next moment you are on the other side of the see-saw; He is acting as your Lord Supreme and you are acting as His supreme lover. Usually, the human mind is such that it says: "I have been worshipping Him all the time, so how can I be on the same level with Him?" But in contemplation this question does not arise. That is how contemplation is different from meditation and concentration.

Question: Can you speak more on concentration?

Sri Chinmoy: There are three steps in the spiritual life: concentration, meditation and contemplation. Aspiration embodies all three of these divine qualities. We have to do first things first. If we cannot concentrate, then we cannot succeed in anything. If a student does not know how to concentrate on his studies, then he may fail every year. He will study, but if he has no power of concentration, then he won't remember anything.

The spiritual life also is a form of study. It is an inner study which is infinitely more difficult to learn. Once we start getting the result of this study, which is inner knowledge, at that time we feel that this knowledge is infinitely more important than the outer knowledge. So in the spiritual life we have to use our concentration at every second. If we do not know how to concentrate, then we are lost; we are doomed. We may meditate for ten hours, but we will not get any satisfactory result.

Concentration is our total or integral attention on a particular subject. We focus our attention on an object or subject and totally forget about the rest of the world. We do not allow the rest of the world to enter into our mind. Only we and the object of our concentration exist. When there is no third person before us or around us, that is concentration.

Even while we are doing japa, repeating God's Name, then also we can concentrate. In between each repetition there is a gap. During each gap we have to feel that there is nothing. Similarly, while we are concentrating, we have to feel that nothing exists between us and the object we are concentrating on.

In the ordinary life when we look at our fingers, the pinky may get sixty per cent of our attention, the ring finger may get twenty per cent, and the other fingers will get the rest. One is getting more attention than the others, true; but it is not getting one hundred per cent of our attention. When we concentrate various other things remain around us, like the other fingers. We may think of our breakfast or what somebody has said. These ideas are all around us like our other four fingers. But all our attention remains on the object of concentration. The pinky will get one hundred per cent of our concentration. In this way the seeker develops his power of concentration. Once he has achieved the power of concentration, then meditation becomes extremely easy. And when one has the capacity to do deeper and higher meditation, then contemplation becomes easy. So in this way we progress.

Вопрос: Необходима ли молитва?

Шри Чинмой: Молитва необходима, и необходима медитация. Однако, если человек становится опытным в медитации, молитва не нужна. Когда я молюсь, я говорю, а мой Отец слушает. Когда я медитирую, говорит мой Отец, а я слушаю. Настанет время, когда мне не нужно будет говорить, потому что я буду сознательным инструментом Всевышнего. Когда я совершу полное отречение, во мне и через меня будет действовать Он. Когда мы углубляемся в духовную жизнь и медитация у нас становится глубокой, мы слушаем Бога, и нам больше не нужно ничего у Него просить.

Как только мы становимся Его совершенными инструментами, Он будет исполнять Свою Волю в нас и через нас. Но до тех пор, а также пока мы считаем, что Бог не заботится о нас так, как мы заботимся о себе сами, нужно молиться, чтобы освободиться от невежества и неуверенности. Как только мы осознаем Бога или будем на пороге осознания, мы увидим, что Бог всегда знает, что нам нужно, и необходимости молиться о разных вещах у нас нет. Мы хотим только совершить отречение. Когда мы почувствуем, что Бог вездесущ и заботится о нас бесконечно больше, чем мы заботимся о себе, молитва будет не нужна, поскольку мы будем принадлежать Ему, будем Его собственностью. А раз так, значит, мы не принадлежим себе, зато нас будет считать Своими Бог.

Question: Can you tell us something about why there seems to be a growing attraction to meditation in America?

Sri Chinmoy: People are showing considerable interest in meditation precisely because they are not satisfied with what they have and what they are. They want to have something more meaningful and fruitful in their lives. They have tried in every possible way to get that very thing, but unfortunately they have not acquired or achieved it. So they feel now that meditation is the answer. They are trying to explore meditation in order to have some satisfaction in life.

Part II — The mind and the heart in meditation

Question: How can I start meditating in the heart right from the beginning without going through the mind first?

Sri Chinmoy: You must direct your full, intense concentration on the heart. You must feel that you are not the mind. You have to feel that you are growing into the heart. You are only the heart and nothing else.

Question: When I am meditating, sometimes I have trouble distinguishing whether what I feel is my mind imagining my heart or whether it is really my heart.

Sri Chinmoy: If it is your real heart, then you will get a sense of satisfaction, pure satisfaction. If it is the mind you may also get satisfaction, but immediately you will also get something else and that some thing else is doubt. Your experience will be attacked by other thoughts: "How can I have this kind of satisfaction? I am so bad, I am so impure, I am so ignorant. This morning I told a lie and yesterday I did something very wrong, so I cannot have this kind of satisfaction." When that kind of idea comes, then you will know that your experience was from the mind. When you get an experience with the mind, you may temporarily feel very happy, delighted. But you won't be able to establish your identification with what the mind has seen or felt or realised.

But once you get an experience from the heart, immediately you feel your oneness with it. When you see something with the heart, you get joy and immediately you are one with it. When you see a flower with your mind, you appreciate and admire it. But when you see it with your heart, immediately you feel either that your heart is inside the flower or that the flower is inside your heart. So when you have an experience and feel a kind of satisfaction, if you feel that you are one with the experience itself, then you will know that it is from the heart. But if you feel that the experience is something outside you that you are achieving, then it is from the mind.

Question: Guru, very often when meditating in a group in front of the room, when I concentrate on my heart centre, I find that my breathing is very heavy and very distracting.

Sri Chinmoy: The thing is that while you are meditating, you do something with your eyes which is not good at all. You strain your eyes to a certain extent; they are so tight and stiff. You are normal, but your eyes are just pinched. So when you do something unwise with your eyes, the actual pressure falls on your heart centre and it is very harmful to your aspiration. If you can keep your eyes normal while you are meditating, without tightening them, then this pressure will go away. So when you meditate, try to feel a smooth flow inside you when you breathe in. You can keep your eyes open or keep your eyes closed; no harm. Only don't make them unnaturally stiff.

Question: When I meditate with my heart on your picture I've been getting a headache.

Sri Chinmoy: You are pulling beyond your capacity. You feel you are meditating inside your heart, but you are being misguided. Actually you are meditating in your mind, but you are not able to feel the presence of your mind. If you really meditate on your heart you will develop the sense of identification. Then no matter how intensely you meditate, there can be no such problem.

Please be more conscious; then you will be able to discover that you are meditating in the mind. If you meditate in the heart, then no matter how many hours you meditate or how much Peace, Light and Bliss enters into your heart, you will not get headaches.

Question: If an inspiration comes into the mind when one is meditating, should one follow the inspiration or remain in the heart?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know what kind of inspiration it is. If it is an illumining inspiration, then you should follow it. If it is a creative inspiration to do something really good, then follow it. Any creative thought, anything that gives you a higher goal, should be followed. If a particular inspiration brings something new into your life, if it will transform your life, then that inspiration you should follow. Only then can you become really great and good.

But inspiration has a very wide range, from the lowest to the highest. While you are in a very low consciousness, when inspiration comes, it may be absolutely gross and mundane. During meditation some people think of making most delicious cookies or eggplant. While you are not praying, if you get inspiration to cook something, that is different.

You have to know that the mind makes you feel that inspiration is only in the mind whereas aspiration is only in the heart. But you have to know that aspiration can be in the mind and inspiration can be in the heart. Inspiration can come to aspiration and vice versa. One can go into the other. But it must be of a very high type, or it cannot help us at all.

Question: How can one discipline the mind during meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: It is only during meditation that you get the opportunity to discipline the mind. When you are not in meditation you will see that each thought or idea is composed of words. If you enter into an idea you will see that it is formulated with words. Words come and form a sentence either inside or outside your mind and there you get an idea. But during deep meditation, you do not need words to form an idea. There the idea comes in a flash in the form of light, or light will bring the idea right in front of your vision. At that time you will immediately see the incident or truth that you want to envision in your life.

How can you discipline your mind during meditation? You can discipline the mind only by forgetting the existence of the mind and feeling that you do not have a mind. You may think, "If I do not have a mind, then how can I exist? I will become an idiot without a mind." But I tell each and every one of my disciples that the mind you get from books, the mind you utilise while conversing with people, the mind you require in order to exist on earth, cannot take you even an inch towards God-realisation. It is lame. It is blind. It is deaf. The mind is your enemy.

During meditation if you can really make yourself feel that you have only the heart, or if you can feel that you do not even have the heart, but that your whole existence from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head is the soul, then you will see that the mind does not exist. But if you cannot feel the presence of your soul, you can easily feel your heart's presence and your heart's glow. When you see light glowing in the heart or in the soul, you can rest assured that you have already transcended the intellectual mind. At this stage you have entered into the illumined mind, which is very different from the reasoning, intellectual mind.

When the light grows in the heart or the light comes out of the soul and permeates the entire body, at that time the mind is automatically disciplined. If you want to discipline the mind by hope, it is impossible. It is just like straightening the tail of a dog. But if you can live in the soul or even in the heart, then the light of the inner existence either transforms the physical mind and brings it into the higher regions, or it brings down the all-fulfilling peace from above into the gross physical mind. When peace descends or the mind ascends into the higher domain of light, at that time the mind automatically disappears.

Part III — Maintaining one's height

Question: After I have a good meditation I lose it. What can I do to maintain my meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Consciously, you don't want to preserve the treasure. Either you mix with unaspiring people or you don't want to preserve your meditation. You are not valuing the treasure. You think: "Even if I lose it I will get it again tomorrow." No, you have to value it, preserve it in the heart-pocket. I always tell you to assimilate your meditation. Once you eat something you must assimilate it.

Вопрос: Когда мы в высокой медитации, как можно удержаться на том уровне, где мы знаем и чувствуем, что между всеми нами нет разделения?

Шри Чинмой: Как можно почувствовать, что мы все едины? Благодаря сознательному устремлению. Сейчас мы медитируем рано по утрам, скажем, десять минут, а потом идем на работу. К сожалению, нам приходится по семь-восемь часов общаться с людьми, которые не устремляются. Нас швыряют в мир желания, страха, тревоги, беспокойств и так далее. В это время мы теряем свое лучшее сознание и практически не в состоянии ощущать единство с другими.

Здесь, в зале для медитаций, мы все устремляемся, вот почему сознание у нас поднимается. Затем, когда мы идем домой, сознание падает. Случится какая-то беда или произойдет что-то еще — и мы теряем устремление. Даже если ничто не препятствует нашему устремлению внешне, наше собственное ограниченное существо не позволяет нам оставаться на вершине дерева.

Иногда нет никакой внешней помехи, но нам все равно трудно оставаться на вершине дерева, поскольку обычно мы там не живем. Мы устремляемся полчаса с предельной искренностью, а потом начинается расслабление. Мы считаем, что очень усердно потрудились. Мы исполняли свою роль минут пять или полчаса и теперь чувствуем, что можно часок-другой отдохнуть. И мы начинаем читать газету или смотреть телевизор и так расслабляемся.

Но если мы хотим поддерживать свой уровень, высоту устремления, то нужно быть постоянными, последовательными. Предположим, мы медитировали час. Может быть, медитировать снова еще час мы не сумеем. Ничего страшного: мы будем делать то, что поддержит и сохранит нашу медитацию. Можно почитать духовные книги или попеть духовные песни. В это время наше внутреннее существо само будет вдохновлять нас читать книги. Нам незачем думать умом: «О, мне пора почитать». Нет, делать то, что нужно, нам поможет наше внутреннее существо. Пока внутреннее существо скрыто глубоко внутри нас, но мы делаем все, что в наших силах, чтобы с помощью йоги вывести его на передний план. Затем, почитав полчаса или час, мы можем пойти в гости к духовному другу или, если это невозможно, позвонить ему по телефону и поговорить о своих переживаниях.

Затем можно записать свои собственные переживания. Мы не собираемся их публиковать, нет! Но, когда мы их записываем, мы раскрываем собственный внутренний свет и совершенствуем свою духовную природу. Мы можем потратить на записи полчаса, а потом почитать то, что написали. Каждый раз, читая об одном из своих духовных переживаний, мы получаем огромный покой, свет и блаженство, и это вовсе не выдумки. Как только мы что-то записали, мы что-то создали. Творец всегда хочет любоваться своим творением. Вот, например, садовник. Садовник, не жалея сил, сажает и поливает цветы. А месяцев через шесть-семь он, увидев цветы, от души восхитится и полюбуется ими. Мы точно так же получаем радость от собственных творений.

Вот так мы можем продолжать часов пять-шесть. Даже во время еды можно вспоминать, какие переживания были у нас во время медитации рано утром. Это воображение — как батарейка. Мы заряжаем память своим духовным прогрессом. Вот так можно продолжать, входя в медитацию или сохраняя ее.

Но, к сожалению, мы этого не делаем. Мы медитируем полчаса или сорок пять минут. Затем мы чувствуем, что устали и выдохлись. И после медитации мы общаемся с неустремленными людьми, читаем неустремленные книги, делаем так много неправильного. Мы чувствуем, что увидели один берег реки, и хотим отправиться на другой берег. Но другой-то берег, к сожалению, сама темнота! Нужно стараться оставаться на освещенном берегу. Нужно делать то, что расширит медитацию или хотя бы сохранит ее силу. В повседневной жизни нужно быть очень мудрыми в том, как мы тратим каждый час, каждую секунду. Настанет время, когда у нас в жизни не будет никаких помех, жизнь сама по себе станет постоянным потоком устремления. Но сейчас нам, чтобы устремляться, нужно использовать сознательный ум.

Итак, нужно рано утром медитировать, а затем читать, петь духовные песни или общаться с духовными людьми. Потом, пока мы на работе или занимаемся чем-то еще, нужно стараться пребывать в духовном потоке, который был у нас рано утром. Из утренней медитации мы получили покой, свет и блаженство — духовную валюту. Затем нужно положить эти деньги в свое сердце, ведь оно самый надежный банк. Потом, когда мы будем на работе и нам понадобится защита от неустремленных людей, можно сконцентрироваться на своем сердце и вывести на передний план немного покоя, света и блаженства, которые мы обрели утром. Так можно поддерживать собственный духовный стандарт и сохранять уровень сознания высоким.

Part IV — Public meditations

Question: What is the advantage of joining a specific path and meditating with others?

Sri Chinmoy: It becomes easier to meditate if you follow a specific path. From your spiritual family you will get additional strength. If you don't have a spiritual family, then you will feel that you are lost. In your family you have a father, mother, brother, sister and dear ones. When you fall sick, immediately somebody else in the family will take care of you. In this case, falling sick means to have doubt. That is the real sickness. If you have doubt, the medical hospital will not be able to help you. It is only the spiritual hospital and the spiritual doctors, who are your brother and sister disciples who will be able to help you.

Question: I find public meditations very hard for me. I come in feeling beautiful. Then I feel all this pain coming into my heart and into my head. Am I being attacked? What do you suggest?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not others' impurity or any other negative force that is entering into you. No. Your difficulty is that when you sit in front, you try to pull far beyond your capacity. When I am on stage, the whole stage is flooded with light, When you sit in front of me and look at me, you try to pull. It is as if you are in a shop and you see all sorts of most beautiful things. Like a greedy fellow you want to buy everything, yet you have in your pocket only five cents. When you try to pull beyond the capacity of your receptivity, at that time you get head pain.